Saturday, October 30, 2010

At sea...

Meet, Irene, Arthur, Wendy and Marty.



They have all been on the ship since we left Seattle.

That's right, they have been on the ship one week less than we have!

They are from Australia and they have been traveling on the Star for 6 weeks.

They are staying on board until we get back to Los Angeles. That means, they're still on with us for another 20 days.

When they get off the ship they will have been on with us for a total of 52 days! Incredible.

They are super, super nice and have come to all of our shows. Too bad they can't stay on until Christmas.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:At sea...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tortola...

Back in Tortola.

Another place that we used to visit when Jeannie and I were on the Dawn.

The place has changed a little. Everything seems to have gotten a fresh coat of paint. And, they finally got a stoplight.


2 years ago when we were here there were banners everywhere announcing that they were going to have a festival and a parade for the island's first stoplight. Good to see they finally got it.

It was nice to see all the familiar things I remember from Tortola. They still had the chickens running around loose everywhere. They still had the brightly decorated taxi trucks.


And, they still had the terribly mangled cars sitting deserted by the side of the road.


Jeannie, Jo and I took a cab to Cape Beach on the other side of the island.


I have fond memories of that beach. We stopped there when my mom, dad and brother Jacob visited a couple of years ago.


Jeannie, Jo and I rented some lawn chairs and spent the afternoon getting some sun and playing in the water. It was nice, relaxing and refreshing.

Afterward we took the taxi back to the other side and ate at Pusser's.


Still love Pusser's. Great English pub.

When we were finished we stopped off at the British grocery store and bought some authentic English snacks. A couple of the British dancers on the ship where in there buying their favorite snacks from home. They pointed out to us their favorite treats.


Jeannie bought Hobnobs.

Here's what I bought.



The Bacon Fries tasted like deep fried bacon. Yorkie was essentially just a chocolate bar, but I loved the marketing for it that says it's a chocolate bar that only a man can handle. I also love that there are called "wotsits" and "cheese flavored moments". Hilarious.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Caribbean...

It's been a slow few days.

On Thursday we began a short four day cruise.  It was a charter for Jillian Michaels from the Biggest Loser.  The entire ship was modified to look like a gigantic fitness club.  All the deck chairs were removed and they did their workouts on the deck, near the pool.  It was pretty cool.

It was a nice change.  

We were the only entertainment on the ship.  All the other entertainers had the four days off.  We were told that Jillian heard there was a Second City cast on board and requested we do three shows for her passengers.  The shows were great.  What did we learn from the Jillian Michaels cruise?:

Her fans love talking about working out.
Her fans love talking about eating healthy.
Her fans love talking about Jillian.
Her fans love to laugh.

One night the audience was laughing so hard at our show that they were crying.  It was great.

The ports we stopped at were Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau.  

Jeannie and I spent a lot of time at Great Stirrup Cay so we didn't get off.  It's a private island with a beach,…and that's pretty much it.

We really like Nassau because it's where the Atlantis Resort is located.  When we woke up on Saturday, we just didn't feel like trekking over to the resort.  So, we just wandered around looking for internet.  Everywhere we went the wifi was deathly slow.  There were 4 ships docked in Nassau so all the good wifi spots were crammed with people using Skype to call to the Philippines.  

The only momentous thing we saw in Nassau was a portly woman walking out of Dunkin Donuts and slipping on the sidewalk.  She fell flat on her butt.  The box of donuts she was carrying bounced along next to her.  All 24 of the donuts flopped out of the box.  She and her friend started laughing out of embarrassment .  They picked up all the donuts off the sidewalk and ran down the street giggling.

That was it.  That was the highlight of Nassau.  

Well, the water is always pretty amazing in the Bahamas.  

On Sunday we were in Miami.  

There was a crew drill so it was a short day off the ship.  We were able to get off for only a couple of hours.  

Today we were in Samana, Dominican Republic.

This is as close as I got to Samana.

When we were on the Dawn we were in Samana every week for 4 months.  I know by experience there's nothing to see in Samana.  Well, not nothing.  There's a private island that is completely separate from Samana, but we couldn't get tickets to go there.

This evening there was a Caribbean Deck Party by the pool.  We like the deck parties because it's all kind of different food and it's a fun little party with the passengers.  

Here are Jeannie and Jo dancing excitedly as we wait for the crew elevator to go up to the deck party.

Tonight's party was a little more fun than usual.  It's the last deck party for the dancers on board.  They're leaving on Wednesday.  They were having so much fun several of them jumped in the pool with all their clothes on.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

At sea...

One of the big differences between this cruise and the Hawaiian cruises we have done is that there are several sea days for us here on The Star.

In Hawaii we were on land every single day. Here, we are on land every 2 or 3 days and we're usually only on land for 6 to 8 hours in each port. So, we have a lot of downtime.

I have a list of things that I want to do while we are cooped up on the ship during the sea days.

Things like:
Write a book.
Write a script or two.
Read several books.
Edit Hawaiian videos and Tokyo videos.
Edit The Happy Couple Videos.

I've managed to accomplish a few of these tasks. I edited The Happy Couples videos. I have enough footage for one or two more. So, hopefully, I'll get a couple more of those posted. I've transferred a lot of the Tokyo videos to my computer. I just have to edit together and post it. I think I'll have that done soon.

Thanks to my awesome iPad, I've gotten a lot of reading done. I've downloaded many, many books and have been reading them every chance I get. I have a couple of favorite places on the ship where I crawl into a window cubby and read for several hours.

E-Books are fantastic. I have a hundred or so books downloaded and they take up no space in my room and little to no space on my iPad. This iPad has been one of the best purchases I've ever made.

I have done no writing. I haven't felt...

I was going to say motivated, but that's not the case. I'm motivated and I have the ideas and stories mapped out in my brain, but my creative juices have not been inspirationally flowing yet. I could sit down and write 3000 words right now, but they would not be coming from inspiration. They would be completely technical. Soon I will be inspired and then I will write.

Until then, the rest of my time is spent doing THIS!



This is the greatest sports video game I have ever played.

It is absolutely amazing. It's the most thorough, vivid video game I've ever played.

I'll admit, the great part of my love for this game is due to my love for the Bulls championship teams of the 90's. The game starts out with you having to play as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, John Paxon, Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright against Magic Johnson and the Lakers in the 91 NBA championship series.



I mean, are you kidding me! That's my ultimate dream. From the mid 80's to 1999, I watched every single Bulls game that was played. I went to several Bulls games at the United Center while I was living in Kankakee and then again when I moved to Chicago during their second set of three-peats.

Back in those days, it was a toss up who I loved more, The Bulls, The Bears or The Cubs or the Illini.

When Jerry Krause broke up Michael and the Bulls in '99, my love for the Bulls has waned. Recently, my interest in the team has increased, but I don't know that I'll ever be able to replicate the emotions that I felt for that original team.

This game has done an absolutely phenomenal job of replicating the movements and motions and features of all the players in the game. Michael moves like Michael. Scottie abuses the rim exactly like he used to. Even Will Purdue lumbers down the court in the same way that he did in 1991.

As a Bulls fan, you just can't get better than this game. If you play the Jordan Challenge you play 10 of Jordan's greatest games and try to relieve and equal Jordan's accomplishments from the actual game. It's amazing.


If you're not a Bulls fan, it's still incredible. All the game modes are amazing and all the current players have been meticulously recreated. At times, even though I'm moving the controls of the players, it looks like I'm actually watching a real live NBA basketball game.



Greatest sports game I've ever played.

I may not get any writing done ever on this cruise ship.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:W Bay St,Nassau,The Bahamas

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cartagena...

I have now set foot on my third continent. South America!


Cartagena, Colombia was formally the cocaine trafficking capital of the world. It's ports were used to funnel cocaine all over the world. However, that is no longer the case. The city is now completely cocaine free!

Yeah, right.

We arrived into Cartagena in the middle of a rainstorm. It rained hard all morning.

Not to be deterred, we took a cab to the walled city. To our disappointment, we arrived and everything was closed. It was a holy holiday.


Beneath our umbrellas we sloshed around in our wet shoes taking in the beautiful streets and buildings of the walled city.







I loved, loved, loved it!

It reminded me of the French Quarter of New Orleans. So old, so well maintained. So beautiful.



This old, historical, Spanish town is the type of place that is right up my alley. I love the narrow brick and stone streets with the colorful, ornate buildings that hang over the slender sidewalks.



I could live here quite happily.

We ducked out of the rain and ate at an Italian restaurant. Seems strange that we ate Italian for our first meal in Colombia, but we couldn't find any other type of restaurant around. They love their pizzeria's in Cartagena. Every block there was an Italian restaurant and a Juan Valdez Coffee Cafe. Nothing else.

We realized later that there are lots of other restaurants, they were just closed.

The restaurant we ate at was magnificent.  Jeannie had the best cabonara I've ever tasted.


The cheese was so tangy. It was incredible.

While we were eating we saw one of the women walk by with fruit on her head.


She sold the fruit, but mostly she sold the opportunity to take your picture with her.

If you look at the picture you'll see there are a few people hanging around that one table. The people at that table made a mistake of buying something from one of the street vendors. Once they did that they were swarmed by every vendor in the entire town. They also made the mistake of saying, "do you have change for a hundred dollar bill?". They were dead meat from there on out.

On our travels this trip, money has been kind of tricky. We've stopped in three different countries, all with their own currency. I have a currency converter app on my IPhone, but it's still confusing sometimes.

The exchange rate for the Mexican Peso is 13.00 peso to $1 US. In Costa Rica, it's $1US for 492.99 Costa Rican Colon's. In Cartagena, $1 US Dollar is worth 1,797.00 Colombian Peso's. I took $30 out of the ATM and got 50 million peso's.


I'm a fifty millionaire!

After lunch the sun came out and a lot more of the stores opened up. We walked around for awhile.


We found an old market that sold crafts and gifts.


There were 30 different shops in there.

After that we haggled with a cab driver and eventually got him to take us back to the ship for $10 dollars. He took a little bit of a scenic route and showed us places that we'll want to go to when we come back in 2 weeks.

We got back to the port and there were parrots walking around everywhere.


That was as close as Jeannie would get. She wanted to get closer, but she was pretty scared of him.





We had some time to spare so we spent some time in the courtyard talking to friends and using the wi-fi. Jeannie also got to enjoy some of the famous Colombian coffee. It was sweeter than regular coffee, she reported.

Our musical director Joel came by and had Jeannie take a picture of him drinking coffee so he could send it to his wife.


Cartagena was great. Of all the places we've been to on the ships, it's the place I'm most excited and eager to return

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Videos...

Before we left Hawaii Jeannie and John recorded a couple of videos that we called The Happy Couple.

I had some free time during our sea days this week and sat down and edited a couple more.  Here they are:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Panama Canal...

Early Sunday morning we went through the Panama Canal.

I got up and got a good spot at the front of the boat. On deck 8, at the very front of the ship, is an area that is only accessible to crew members. It's shut off for safety reasons, but it's a primo spot to do sightseeing. On The Dawn, it was the best place to see the Statue of Liberty. On The Pride, it was the best place to see the Napali Coast and the lava flow of the Big Island.

Here on The Star, it's where I got a close up view of the glaciers and the Golden Gate Bridge and where I got super close to the Panama Canal.


We got to the first lock around 8:30.






It looked like it was a tight fit, but we nestled in there with plenty of room to spare.

Once we pulled in, the doors shut behind us. We tied up to a pilot and it guided us to the front doors of the lock.


The lock then filled with water and the ship was lifted 50 feet above sea level.


The pilot was now no longer above us and was several feet below us.

Once the lock was filled the doors opened and we entered our second lock.


We traveled through, the doors shut, the lock filled with more water and we were lifted once again. This time the water almost surpassed the doors.


We sailed through the doors. This is what it looked like from behind.


From there we entered a man made lake. We floated around there for awhile as we awaited our turn to go through the final lock of the first set of locks. There were several other ships who were going through the locks before and after us.

We also passed the dam that was keeping this section of water high above sea level.


We slipped into the last lock and were raised once again.


We passed through and entered the channel that would lead us to two more sets of locks. For those folks who were too lazy to step outside, there was a screen set up in the atrium so that they could see the view from the front of the ship.


For those of us who stood outside, we passed by some beautiful sights.








It was fascinating to pass through jungles and mountains and to realize that 103 years ago this was all dry land. There was no water here. Men dug this out and created it so that ships had a shortcut to go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and vice versa.

40 miles of land turned into a bridge of water! It's incredible.

This mountain was cut in half so that the Canal could pass through it.


And! AND, this Canal was done from 1880 to around 1911. (I'm not sure if it was finished by 1911. If you read the previous post you'll see I'm only halfway through the book. I don't want to peak at the end of the book to see what the end date is because I don't want to spoil the end of the book. I gotta see if Teddy Roosevelt ever gets this thing built!)

My point being, there weren't a lot of sledgehammers or bulldozers or concrete mixers when they were building this thing. They mainly used shovels and dynamite. Most everything was transported by mules and railways.

So very, very incredible.

The crossing took a little over 7 hours. We passed through two more sets of locks and were lowered back down to sea level and slid into the Atlantic Ocean.

Luckily for us, we'll pass through the Panama Canal four more times in the next 3 months. Hopefully by then I'll have finished my book about the Canal and will know the date it was completed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Panama Canal...

Tomorrow (Sunday), we're crossing through the Panama Canal.

One of the primary reasons I wanted to do this ship and this itinerary  was to do this cross through the Canal.  I've also been excited to go to Alaska, Colombia, San Francisco and Mexico, but the Canal was probably at the top of my list as the most intriguing part of the trip.

I don't know much about the Canal, but going through these locks through one of the greatest engineering marvels of modern time was something I couldn't pass up.  It's not something that everyone gets to do and I'm pretty excited about it.

It's my understanding that the whole process is about 8 hours long and there's a lot of slow movement through concrete locks and dams. Still, that's pretty cool.

Because I don't know a lot about the Canal, I bought on my IPad David McCollough's book about the Panama Canal "The Path Between the Seas".  It's riveting.

I've read two other of David McCollough's books, "John Adams" and "1776" and to my surprise, this one about the Canal has been my favorite.  I'm only halfway through the book right now, but I'm excited to sit down in a chair and read the rest of the book as we're slowly making our way through the Canal.

That's cool to me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Costa Rica...

We're in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

It's a small village off the coast of the Pacific.  There's very little too see in the town.  If you want to see or do anything, you need to do an excursion.

Well, we didn't plan ahead and get an excursion and we didn't want to blindly hire a cab driver to take us anywhere so we wandered around the town looking for some sort of entertainment.

We didn't find much.

We went to a restaurant hoping to eat some Costa Rican food, but all they had was burgers and Chinese food.  An odd combination.

I ordered the "American Hamburger" and this is what I got.

A burger with cheese, tomato's, onions, cucumbers and ketchup.  It also had ham on it.

They served me and actual burger with ham on it.  A hamburger.

Topping this curiosity was a strawberry and a grape.

So odd.  So charming.

So not good.

It was a soyburger.  You know the kind I'm talking about.  The types of burgers that are usually only reserved for school cafeterias and hospitals.

Ugh.

Next time we're in Costa Rica.  We're going to have to do an excursion.  This day was kind of blech.